Germany's railways get better and better, with new, faster trains and fares one quarter lower than a month ago. But one thing hasn't changed: the remarkable Schönes-Wochenende ("Happy Weekend") ticket: for a flat fare of €28 (£19), up to five people can travel anywhere in Germany on a Saturday or Sunday. Even if you are alone, the deal is excellent value. One catch: you are restricted to the slower trains. There is no need to book in advance; just turn up at the station. German Rail: 08702 43 53 63; www.bahn.de.


Today is the last day for the advance-booking deal with SeaFrance (08705 711 711; www.seafrance.com). Buy by close of business tonight, and a car and as many passengers as it can legally carry (maximum nine) can cross from Dover to Calais for as little as £129, even during the school summer holidays. "We guarantee fares will not be cheaper in 2003", says the company.

No-frills cross-Channel car ferries between Dover and Dunkerque are provided by Norfolkline (0870 870 1020; www. norfolkline.com), which is offering early-booking specials of £110-£210 return for any day this year, for a car and up to five people. The crossing is slower than the link to Calais, but there are up to 10 sailings a day.